Sunderland (1859)



About two years ago a few young men com­menced a juvenile service on the Sabbath evenings. In a short time we had between 250 and 300 young people of all classes, up to the age of twenty years, who tried our patience so much that many of the friends tired of the work, and after a few months I was left alone. I still trusted in God and kept looking for fruit and finding none. The regular attendants now numbered 300, and I alone in. the midst of them, some shouting, some whistling and fighting. One Sabbath evening I was so much tried that I felt I must leave the work; I found it was more than I could bear, and I gave notice that the next Sabbath evening would be the last. I felt it just as hard work to give up, so during the week I asked my heavenly Father's advice, knowing that He would lead me in the right path. Sabbath evening came; I went as usual, and was astonished to see how quiet they all were; I felt that the Spirit of God was in our midst, we sang as we had not sung before. I spoke to them of the love of Jesus, and it gladdened my heart to see the big tear stealing down the cheek of one and another. At the close I invited any that were anxious to remain for conversation, when not less than forty of the oldest remained, and in a few minutes were all crying in great agony. I felt at a loss, being alone, how to comfort them. After they were calmed I pointed them collectively to Jesus. There was one young man amongst that number who was one of the worst that I had; he was the ringleader in all uproars both in and out of the room. That young man came to me in tears, and I had every reason to believe that he found Jesus that night. During the next week he was suddenly brought to a sick bed; as he lay he thanked God for being at the meeting on the past Sabbath, which proved to be his last, for in a few days his spirit took its flight to glory. From that time up to this God has been blessing us. During the last few months many young people have found Jesus. How pleasing it is to see them standing in the midst of their companions exhorting them to come to Christ! During the last few weeks we had to leave the large room we had, it being let for a corn loft. The last Sabbath we had in it we closed with a prayer-meeting, asking God to direct our feet to another place, which we knew not where to find. It was affecting to hear one young woman, who had been converted a fortnight before, praying thus with tears: "O Lord, I feel sorry to-night that we have to leave this place; some were laughing to-night when they came in and saw the sacks standing, but I felt sorry, because we should have no place to go to. But, O Lord, do thou lead us to some other place, that many more may be converted unto Thee." God answered. our prayer, for before the next Sabbath we were in a neat little chapel, which had been to let for some time, in one of our poorest localities.

We have prayer-meetings every Monday evening in a place where old sea captains and their widows live, and during the last few weeks we have had glorious awakenings both with young and old people. Several ministers are holding out-door meetings, and many sinners are being brought to a sense of their danger. God has been doing a great work amongst our pilots and steam-boat men; many who a short time ago were cursing God are now praising the Lord for his goodness. It is interesting to see a group of them on a Sabbath evening after service, standing in the street, one giving out the hymn, "When I survey the wondrous cross," then inviting the people into a prayer-meeting held amongst themselves. For a long time we have been in a chapel capable of holding about 450, which is crowded with anxious listeners every Sabbath evening, all poor people. I have every reason to thank God for the way in which he has led me; it is only three years since I stood on the public concert-room stage, an amateur comic singer, and one of the greatest drunkards in Sunderland; but I was brought to Jesus, and since then I have never failed to tell to all around what a Saviour I have found; and, thank God, I have got a few.

'Revival Newspaper' Volume vi, June 29th 1861 p206.

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